Dollar Night Bucks The Odds

BY JIM WELLS

There is only one way to explain what took place as patrons began lining up at the windows or, those who already had passes, at the turnstiles to gain entrance to the racetrack Thursday night.

The dollar store is open again.

A buck admission, a buck for a race program, a Pepsi, nachos or popcorn.

After all, this is Minnesota, and the word has been out for eons. If it’s free or cheap, we’ll show up.

Apparently it has to do with a mindset formed during the great depression and passed on from one generation to the next, without much consideration for anything that has transpired in the decades since. It is inherited in words of wisdom deeply embedded in the local culture.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

He has the first dollar he ever earned.

Well, he did, but he spent it on admission to Canterbury on dollar night.

“I thought hotdogs were a buck, too,” one patron mused. “Nope. They’re two bucks,” he was told.

“Well, then,” the Minnesotan said, ”can I get half a hot dog with mustard and onions, please.”

The Thursday night crowd does have its peculiarities.

“Oh, you can bet on those races, too?” a newcomer asked.

At 6:30 p.m. the skies in any direction were overcast, casting some doubt on what to expect on this first Thursday night of the meet.  Inclement weather has been a dominant factor this spring.

Oppressive heat or rain has reduced attendance for days that typically have produced an enthusiastic response. Take Preakness Saturday, for one example, when a wet afternoon reduced attendance to a mere 7,100 patrons for a Triple Crown race.

Yet, buck night has a life of its own and produced some grist for the avid patrons to think about in the comings days and weeks as well.

The quarter horse crowd either knew or expected some of what they witnessed in the opening two races on the card as Stacy Charette-Hill trained horses swept both.

Charette-Hill won the training title in 2013 and annually has a competitive barn.

On the thoroughbred front, Orlando Mojica rode the winner of the fifth race for trainer Valorie Lund, a 3-year-old filly called Fiftyshadesograyce for his 19th win of the meet, one short of leading rider Ry Eikleberry.

The highlight of the evening occurred as press box minions gathered around the television set to watch the Washington Capitals claim their first NHL championship trophy.

“I’m waiting to see the guy who brings out the Stanley Cup in his white gloves,” said TV producer Jon Mikkelson. “He’s my hero.”

After the Caps received their trophy, Mikkelson, who presents the Paul Bunyan Axe trophy each year, vowed to wear white gloves himself during next year’s presentation of that award.

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